Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let Loose the Dogs of War!

And we're live!

Today marks the first day official day of the Underdark Wars and there's still a few last things to do. I need re-draw the map and scan it since my son decided to color it last night with a black pen and the whole Beholder/Drow/Mind Flayer quadrant was destroyed. I also need to get everyone's e-mail address so I can keep everyone in the loop since we have two players that don't have a G+ account. And I'll be sending everyone's troop and resource lists out after I get back from playing D&D this afternoon.

That said I have created a Google+ Community, Underdark Wars, where most everyone can quickly communicate with each other and get things done in an easier way. Already +James Aulds has continued the Duergar tradition of talking smack in some of the most creative ways and I expect that this will be the most active use for the community! Currently it's closed to players only but I'll be using this blog to help consolidate everything into a single location.

The Teams

Beholders   | +Anders Nordberg, Tom, and +edchuk sockmonkey
Drow        | +Andrew Davis, +Gus L, and +Jarrod Shaw
Duergar     | +Mark Van Vlack and +James Aulds
Mind Flayer | +Jim Haltom and +Nick Foster
Svirfneblin | +Mike Davison and the Shadowplay

I'm having a little bit of trouble with Open Office so the finalized rules PDF will be up this evening as well after my brother helps me fix the file - that or I have to completely re-write it. Whichever come first. Until then I highly encourage you to pick your favorite team, root for them, and get ready to watch this bloody spectacle!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Underdark Wars Extended Sign-up Period


Okay guys and gals due to a family situation that happened on Tuesday I'm going to be extending the sign-up period for the Underdark Wars to Sunday at 7:00 AM EST and will post the map at 10:00 AM EST. I will also be publishing a one page PDF with all the rules for the game so that everyone playing can download a copy and have everything right in front of them whenever they need it.

Underdark Wars Current Rosters

Team        | Players
Beholder    | +Anders Nordberg 
Drow        | +Andrew Davis, +Gus L, and +Jarrod Shaw 
Duergar     | +Mark Van Vlack and +James Aulds 
Mind Flayer | +Jim Haltom and +Nick Foster 
Svirfneblin | +Mike Davison 

At this point I would like to remind everyone that there are no limits on how many people can be in any one group so feel free to bring in as many friends and allies as you would like. So if you've been on the fence about picking a team and joining now's a good time to sign up!

Come play with us!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's Okay, Billie Said I Could Come In

My Uncle Donald died last night and I'm going to be a pallbearer on Friday. It's not the tradition in my family to mourn our losses but to celebrate their lives and I am doing my best even though my heart is breaking.

If you don't mind I'm going end this post here as I've a lot to do before I can head to bed tonight. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Terrible Things Are Being Planned

We're all just spoiling for a fight at this point.

I just wanted to remind everyone that enrollment in the Underdark War Game is still open. Here are the teams as they stand at 1:18 AM EST, Tuesday morning.

Team        | Players
Beholder    | +Anders Nordberg
Drow        |
Duergar     | +Mark Van Vlack and +James Aulds 
Mind Flayer | +Jim Haltom and +Nick Foster
Svirfneblin | +Mike Davison

Now I'm not saying that there's already been a little bit of trash talking coming from the Duergar camp, but I am saying that I highly encourage inventive invectives and not only because that's an alliteration. I deeply enjoy trash talk so long as it remains in the realm of "My imaginary warriors are going to do terrible things to your sorry excuses for a fighting force" and not a dick measuring contest where we're trying to see who has the smallest pecker in the room. 

If you're on the fence for picking a side to join now's the time to get in the game. The forces are arraying for battle and the players are spoiling for a good fight. Are you just going to let them have all the fun while you sit on your computer chair and try to remember what it was like to be involved?


Don't forget that enrollment ends on Thursday morning so join the fight today!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Let's Play a Game: Underdark Wars



Imagine for the moment that you're sitting by the little pool in back of your tower in the Dale. Your beard is getting scraggly and your pipe seems to be tasting bitterly lately. Probably too many years in use, you muse as the naked Drow woman amuses herself in the pool and teases you for not being able to counter her moves in the game of chess she's been playing with you. Only there are no chess pieces and if she wins than your world, the entirety of the surface kingdoms, are hers for all time. 

You start to say something clever like, For a woman who's talking about killing me you sure are trying to make it as pleasant as possible, but then you toss that aside for fear of coming off too much like the old lecher you are. Then you see the flash hit Waterdeep and mushroom cloud blossoms overhead. Both of you drop your glasses and you hear her scream as a missile the size of your tower strikes the ground next to you.



I've just launched the first trans-dimensional nuclear attack on the Forgotten Realms. I've hit every major city in the Realms (population over 100,000) plus a number of key targets of strategic importance (like Elminster's home). The Sword Coast is a nuclear wasteland.

Due to my strategic missile strikes any above ground npc of 10th level or higher has had his home area struck. I have sent a messenger to every remaining surface kingdom in the Realms, "Surrender and live. Resist and we will annihilate you entirely from the planet."

The surface realms are no longer a threat to the power of the Underdark. Now is the time to consolidate your empires and prepare to rule all of the Forgotten Realms!

The rules:

1. Pick one of the following Underdark kingdoms to control:
Drow
Svirfneblin
Mind Flayer
Beholder
Duergar

2. If multiple people choose a single kingdom then each person represents a power group withing that kingdom and will have to either form a coalition with other groups or eliminate them to dictate the actions for the entire kingdom

3. After all participants have joined each kingdom will have its numbers divided equally among all members of that group. These sub-groups will have all identifing characteristics noted at the time they are divided (thus you'll know how many wizards, fighting-men, and the like you have at your disposal), as well as your starting treasury.

3. Wage war against other Underdark kingdoms to conquer the realms below so that you will then control the surface realms.

4. Turns
     - Each player has one turn per round.
     - Each group will act in alphabetical order (thus all Beholder players act, then all Drow, and so on), and players will act in alphabetical order by username (thus Dither would go before Shadowplay, the) within their group.
     - On your turn you may choose to either occupy an unoccupied area, reinforce an occupied area (through increased men, or building defenses), hire mercenaries, negotiate with another player, or attempt to conquer another player's occupied area. 
          - If you choose to hire mercenaries then you may hire them through one of three methods. (1) You can negotiate a rate with another player to hire a number that must be paid at the start of your turn - be mindful though, the person you hire these mercenaries from still controls them. (2.) You can hire a monstrous character from me for a rate that will be determined based on the type of creature you wish to hire and the quantity. (3.) An ally can choose to lend you a number of troops to help in your quest to conquer the Underdark; however, these troops remain under their command and will act according to their owner's direction at all times.
          - Combat is resolved in a non-randomized method by adding the following factors to see which side has the greatest total. 

      Factor      | Points Awarded
   Fighting Men   | 1 points per unit
     Wizards      | 3 points per unit
       Cleric     | 5 points per unit
  Monstrous Unit  | 7 points per unit
 Reinforced Walls | 10 points
       Traps      | 10 points per trap / max 4 traps
Mercenaries (Def) | - 8 points per unit
Mercenaries (Att) | + 8 points per unit

     - A losing force is utterly destroyed as are all traps and reinforced walls.
     - If combat results in a tie both sides lose half their fighting force. If any traps are present the defending force loses half the original number (unless the orignial number is 1 in which case all traps are lost).
     - At any time you may choose to withdraw from the game by either dividing your forces equally within your group, seeding your entire force to another player (regardless of their kingdom, though if you seed to another kingdom your forces will be treated as mercenaries from that point on under my control), or by refusing to act on your turn for 24 hours (real time).

5. The round ends when all participants have acted

6. Actions may be taken on either Google+ or on Blogger, but at the end of each round the entirety will be written up on this blog so that all participants can see the resolutions of their actions. [[ I should note that while it's not required to play if you have a Google+ account it would greatly facilitate play as I can get your attention directly and keep you from losing your turn and being pulled from the game accidentally ]]

7. Participants will be allowed to join until 7:00 AM EST Thrusday, August 28, 2014 at which point the game will be closed. 

8. Any Kingdom without representation will be divided equally among all the remaining players.

9. The Map for the game, along with everyone's starting location will be posted on Thursday morning at 10:00 AM EST. The game will officially start at at 11:00 AM EST.

The Book Shelf: Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson



I started reading Doc Savage novels four years ago and since I first picked one up I've been on the hunt for a copy of the The Man of Bronze. So many of the later tales are based on the set up from this initial story that I felt like it was a must have in order to fully understand the series.  In some ways I was right. 

The novel sets up the foundation for how Savage is able to sustain his heroic efforts and establishes his connections with the Maya. It also provides a standard for all future efforts in the series to be measured against as Savage's talents are pushed to their limits throughout the story.  This tale also begins one of my favorite traditions in the Savage line: future technology actualized. 

On the whole the novel shows the early growing pains of a character that has been freshly launched and that is still fully developing. The quick writing and energetic actions scenes make up for those little hiccups that come along with early tales of any heroic figure. We're also shown what would become a regular feature of the line when Doc Savage acts as the Deus Ex Machina repeatedly throughout the story. 

Still it's a good tale and an excellent introduction to a cast of characters that would set the tone for an entire generation of authors. 

Four Rocking Chicks out of Five

Friday, August 22, 2014

Depression McGee and Other Minor Tramas

Suffering from a minor bout of depression kids. Nothing to worry yourselves with as I'll get over it quickly enough. Just kind of lethargic today. Oh, and my son destroyed his room with vomit and diarrhea last night.

THE JOYS OF PARENTHOOD ARE LIMITLESS.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Venom Comes In Many Forms

So I was working on developing my own version of the Forgotten Realms - one with more nuclear devastation and less divine non-player characters - when I discovered that I may not be the the right person to run my friends through a Realms campaign. You see several of my players love the Realms; as in they can recite dialogue from Realms novels and know more about the lore of the setting than they do about their own religions. 

I'm thinking that perhaps the nuclear radiation and cobalt bombs raining down on the planet from space isn't the best route for these people to enjoy the setting. Instead I think I'll just have Elminster hanging from a tree when they come to visit him in Waterdeep. Oooooh, or maybe I'll just have a Realms vs. Greyhawk war with Greyhawk firing first, second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth. 

Yeah, that might be fun. Who's with me?

It Was Over Before We Even Started Talking

It was late one evening when the local dispatch got a phone call. On the other end was a panicked young lady who started screaming, "Oh my god! You've got to help me, my car's on fire!"

"Calm down, Ma'am," the dispatcher said. "We'll send the fire department right out to you."

"Okay. Thanks," she said and started to hang up.

"Wait!" the dispatcher cried, "We don't know your address. How are we going to get to you?"

"Duh, big red truck!"
I was listening to B.B. King and looking up at the heavens above when it occurred to me that none of my friends have ever played a war game. Not a single one of us have even picked up a ruler and used it to measure out our movements on imaginary terrain.

Why?

In a lot of ways I think that it comes down to the fact that most of the people that I've played with over the years have been under the age of 30 and none of us had any of the older gamers around us to bring war gaming to the fore. I don't think  that I like that answer though. No, I really don't.

So how am I going to fix that?

Duh, big red truck . . . 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm Drinking At the Tavern!

Actually it's more like I've written a post that Tenkar was nice enough to put up!

I had thought about writing a post that discussed why we should abandon our European adventure settings and instead start exploring the surrounding world we live in because that's far more interesting. I started working on that article a couple of weeks ago focusing on the wide variety of options available based on just looking at what's around you and using things like abandoned mines and under-cities as the inspiration for your future games.

Then I got bored. 

So I decided to write about one of my games where things went off the rails after my part was done. It was a hell of a lot more fun to write so I completely abandoned the other post. I submitted it to Erik and he posted it this morning. So far it's gotten three comments:

Venger Santis: "Is flash fiction what you had in mind for guest posters, Erik?"

Fore Shame: "Nope, I don't get it."

and

Charles Akins: "Me either."

Seems to me like I'm winning the internet this morning! Hope you guys and gals enjoy that post as much as they did!

She Keeps Telling Me That I Don't Understand

In Bed: The Kiss by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1892


Timmy was nearly my height, though slightly shorter and far thinner. He looked like one of those hipster children you find wondering the streets at night smoking clove cigarettes and trying to sound far more interesting then they really wore. Only unlike those kids Timmy hated cloves and preferred to chain smoke menthol camels as he paced and talked his way through life. On a cold night like tonight it made him look like a human steam engine barreling along without a track or hope. "She keeps telling me that I don't understand what she's gone through," he was saying this night, "like it's impossible for me to know what it's like to have shitty parents or to watch someone die and you can't do anything about it."

I watched him hit the end of the sidewalk and turn back as I sipped whiskey directly from the bottle. Have you considered that she might mean something more than just her terrible life story?

"You make her sound like she's a character in a play."

We're all characters in a play, Tim. Always have been.

He stopped pacing, "How much have you had to drink."

Drink? I'm a teetotaler and your suggestion that I might be imbibing the devil's brew highly offends my delicate sensibilities, I said as I took another sip. Go on with you diatribe before I rise up from this bench and address your uncouth manners with pistols at dawn.

He smiled, "She doesn't believe that I can understand what it's like to have people use you for what's between your legs."

That's a rather unkind assessment of what you're packing. 

"I know, right? I told her that I'm a highly sought after male specimen and that there were women throwing themselves at me on a daily basis."

So you lied to her in the hopes that she wouldn't remember how desperate you were to get her pants off?

"Well yeah."

Did she fall for it?

"No," he said with mock outrage as he lit another cigarette. "Instead she just roller her eyes, took off her pants, and laid down on the back seat of the car."

That one has a giving soul.

"She does at that," he said with a laugh, "I only wish that laying with her was worth the time and effort."

Rather an uncharitable characterization of the only woman who's allowed you to pull that disgusting thing out of your pants without laughing at you. 

"I know, but you just don't know what it's like to constantly be told that you don't understand. I understand plenty - more than she's likely to ever encounter."

Don't be a fool. He stared at me with a bit of shock in his face. You're talking about a woman that's going into the army and we're at war. She's going to see more terribleness in the coming months than you've ever dreamed of - no matter how many opium dens and crack houses you explore. 

He attempted a half-hearted waving me off and said, "I know. I know. I tried to get her to stay. I told her that she didn't have to go off into the deserts all the way across the world to kill people when her leaving was killing me here."

I handed him the bottle as I said, What did she say to that?

"The only thing you're killing is my vibe."

Bitch don't kill my vibe, I sang.

"This isn't funny. My heart is breaking and I don't know what to do."

Hearts break, I said as he handed me back the bottle. It's an inevitable side effect of being alive and human. You find a woman who'll let you do all the horrible things you've been reading about in the Penthouse forum for the last decade and then she has to go and let you develop feelings for her. 

"A damned, dirty trick."

It is at that. 

Now you start thinking about taking her home and asking her to stay for longer than the night. Only she'd rather be climbing into the arms of some Fabio impersonator who has about as much personality as he has chest hair because his arms are muscular and his steroid shriveled cock is hidden behind those tight leather pants. 

"Are we still talking about me?"

I'm sharing too much again, aren't I?

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's So Quiet.

The last few days have been really quiet out here on the blogging front. I realize that it's because most people are travelling back and forth from GenCon 2014 to home; but that's not what I imagine to be happening. In my strange little fantasy land all these quiet blogs are actually run by aliens from the planet Quelong in the Orion Nebula and they've all been called back as the Quelongians (yeah, that's totally the correct spelling) are preparing to invade Antarctica. 

You see, while we view the Antarctic as this massive ice ball filled with stupid penguins and bleating seals there is actually a massive hive city operating underneath the ice. This city is run by the last of the Neanderthals who have been looking for a way to provide us with the secret of immortality - which they discovered after accidentally having sex with the wrong end of a Saw-saw. The Quelongians are looking to keep that secret for themselves as they find it remarkably enjoyable to have sex with mobile, inanimate, objects while wearing Stetsons and smoking illegally obtained cigars that were rolled by child labor (the tears of children, they say, only make the cigars more enjoyable).

I have a rich inner life and a new campaign setting just waiting to be unleashed on the world!

Hahahahahahahaahahhaha!


I'm Sure It's Fine.

Sunday was one of those days where I just didn't have a great time. My son, however, had a fantastic time. He spent the day running about my parents' house destroying his cousins' toys and leaping off furniture. He screamed at the miniature horse in the field and tried to get his Uncle in trouble by telling his Grandmother than he was bad. 

I, on the other hand, was dealing with a situation with my wife's car when I was out of town; which meant that I didn't sleep but four hours. I took most of the day getting back down to home and then screaming at a car that was completely fine that had made me worry far too much over the last twenty-four hours.



Winning life over here my friends, I'm winning life.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Living in 3/4th Time

I'm working on an essay that I'm going to be submitting to be published on another blog and I had this incredibly, terrible idea that I would love to work on. I want to do a four part series with three other bloggers where all four of us write on a single topic. The way I envision it working is that all four bloggers get together and discuss their topic. Then each would be assigned an aspect of that topic and would go off and write alone. After each is finishes they compare their essays and work on integrating each of them together so that there is a seamless flow between them.

I know it's similar to the blog carnival stuff, but I like this idea better because you're not dealing with such a disjointed affair. It sounds fun to me, Holmes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

We Used to Go On Grand Adventures, Part 2


John Atkinson Grimshaw Paintings, Salthouse Docks, Liverpool 02

William made his way through the docks asking those he met along the way where he could find Captain Thomas. He was directed along the docks to an old, rickety ship that seemed content to deny the laws of gravity and buoyancy as it bobbed along. Boards stuck out everywhere and it was so covered in barnacles and seaweed that it looked as though the sea were trying to claim it here and now.

Captain Thomas? William called out. Captain Thomas, I'm William Krutch, son of Arthur Krutch. He said you had something for me? No answer came. Captain Thomas? Are you there? 

The only answer came from the gulls circling overhead as they seemingly mocked him with their songs. I don't know why I'm surprised, he thought, ever since Dad started going downhill it seems like he's living more and more in his dreams and it's getting harder for him to tell them from reality.

"Your father," boomed a voice that sounded like gravel being ground, "and I went on one hell of a trip in that old boat." 

William slowly turned about and stared in amazement at the gigantic man in front of him. He was every bit seven feet tall and nearly as broad. He wore a black turtleneck, navy blue pants, and a smoldering blue peacoat. Yet what held William's eye was the unruly red beard that seemed to writhe with the giant's every word. 

"I was in a bar in Laconia when I met your father. He had two of the prettiest Greek girls you'd ever seen wrapped about him and he just saunters in like none of the locals would give a damn about some foreigner screwing their women. I see a pair of sailors, bad men, start nudging each other and thumbing towards your pop. I'm thinking that I'm about to see this little guy get his ass handed to him when he looks right at me and says, 'There you are! I told the girls that you'd be waiting for them here!' And then the three of them sat down at my table!

"Next thing I know we're fighting the whole damned bar and your father is taking them by fives while I'm doing my best with the four who are after me!" He let loose a laugh that sounded like cannon fire, "Bless me, your father was a hell of a man!"

Dad's not dead, William said with a stutter. I talked to him last night.

The big man gave a small little smile and said, "Son, your father's gone. I've got his ashes in the boat." The color drained from Williams face and he felt his breath race from him. Dad's, was all he managed to get out before everything went dark.


He was dreaming, William could always tell when he was dreaming. His mother was there in her classroom putting grades into the grade book and humming a little tune. It was chorus to Dusty, Old Dust. She was always humming it because she couldn't remember the words. Only this time his father was there leaning on the edge of her desk writing in one of those little notebooks he always kept handy. 

Dad, is it you?

His father didn't seem to notice him at first, but then his mother said, "William's talking to you Arthur."

"I know Zelph," he said with a gentle smile, "I guess you've heard then?"

Dad, Captain Thomas said you're dead.

"I am son, I am," he said with a smile, "but don't you worry about that right now."

How can I not?

"Because there are big things coming to you," he said as he rose and walked towards William. "It's going to get really difficult very soon, but I have faith that you'll pull it out in the end."

"Arthur," William's mother admonished, "you know He said that we're not allowed to give too much away. If you do He won't let you visit again."

"I know, Zelph," he said, "but the boy needs to know that we have faith in him."

This isn't real, William whispered, I'm going to wake up right now and call the nursing home. They'll tell me you're still alive and that everything's alright. It's all going to be alright just as soon as I wake up. 

Everything will be right as rain. You'll see.

"It won't, William," his mother gently said, "Your father and I have both passed from the world of man and you need to accept this now or the next part is going to be even more difficult."

"Now who's telling too much?"

"Quite dear," she said with a cross look, "call it a mother's prerogative."

"Yes Ma'am."

I'm going to be sick.

"You might be," she said as she walked over to him, "but before you are you need to listen carefully, Will. I want you to think hard for me."

William looked up at her. She can't be here, he thought. This can't be real.

"Will, I want you to remember the old rhymes and songs we used to sing when you were little. Can you do that for me?"

I, I think so.

"Good," she smiled again. 

It's her, he thought, I know it's her but this can't be real. It just can't be.

"Keep those in mind for what comes next. You have to remember them and remember the superstitions. They'll serve you well if you hold to them."

But -

"No time for that," his father said as hugged him, "Time to wake up."

William blinked and felt the world roll underneath him. He was inside the ship. The Captain must have put him in the boat when he passed out. Nice of him, William thought, but there must be one hell of a storm come into the bay for us to be rolling like this.

Captain Thomas, he called in the empty hold as he fell out of the hammock. Captain? I need to use your phone if you don't mind. I want to call the nursing home and find out what's going on with Dad. The waves crashed against the side of the ship as William lurched towards the stairs that lead up.


When he threw open the bay doors a cacophony of thunder and Captain Thomas screaming obscenities nearly drove him back inside.  Waves as high as the crow's nest rolled into view and monstrous shapes swam in them. His legs trembled and he froze watching tentacles as thick as bridge wire snake out of the water and slap the deck, seeking out a tasty morsel.

"Test me you overgrown pizza topping," boomed Captain Thomas. "I'll cut off your thrice damned limbs and fry you in butter!"

The boat shook as one of the massive tentacles slammed hard against the side. "You think that scares me? You dumb, fucking cuttlefish! I've taken cannon balls to the side of this heap that had more impact!"

William tried to get his legs to move but they were frozen in place as he watched the ocean roll and the tentacles come snaking out of the depths. The side of the boat creaked with the impact of yet another tentacle and water began to flood the hold. Brave little rabbit, William screamed, hiding in your hole, waiting for the farmer to smoke you out. Leap to freedom now or perish!

He ran on deck.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Have No Words to Offer

I wanted to post the next part of the story I'm currently writing but I've been absolutely consumed by the news coming out of Ferguson. This is a clear cut case of the police acting way out of line. We don't detain journalist; we don't threaten them; and we damned sure don't shoot tear gas at them and then follow that up with non-leathal rounds to drive them away so we can seize their equipment. All of these officers need to be investigated and those that participated in these unconstitutional acts need to be stripped of their positions.

Reporters under attack by Ferguson County Police and then having their equipment seized

You're in the Untied States of America and you're supposed to serve and protect the citizens of your community. You're supposed to be the good guys. Put down the sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and fucking act like it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hesitation

Why is that I'm so hesitant to combine previously published materials for my own amusement?

I love reading about people making games that combine Star Wars with Warhammer 40K and most any other combination you could imagine; but when it comes to my own endeavors I'm stubbornly against doing so. Why?

The fuck is wrong with me?

We Used to Go On Grand Adventures

We used to go on grand adventures.

"So you keep telling me," the young man said as he helped the old man into his bed. 

I fought a Dragon for the hand of a fair maiden once.

"Of course you did," he whispered as he searched for the pills and glass of water. "Here, you're supposed to take these."

I don't want to. 

"Why not, Dad," he said with exasperation. "Dr. Simmons said that you had to take the medicine so you could remember what's going on and who you're talking to."

They make me forget the adventures, he said as he began to pace about the room.

"When you don't take them you forget me entirely."

The old man stopped his pacing and climbed onto the bed. I don't really forget you, you know? I could never forget you. It's just that when I don't take that medicine I can remember what it was like to ride a horse with the wind in my hair - back when I had hair. And I can remember the feel of a sword in my hands and the feel of the sun on my face.

The young man pursed his lips for a moment as he thought of all that his father had once been and how this was but the first step towards the end before he said, "I can take you to the park tomorrow if you'd like."

The park, the old man said waving him off. The park is where you take old men and children so they can forget who they are and pretend to be wild things! I have no need for pretending when I have my memories. He was practically screaming that last bit. The nurses would be coming soon.

"Dad, if you can remember my name I won't make you take the medicine."

What's that? You're testing me?

"I won't have you forgetting me. I can't face that yet."

William, he said in a whisper. We named you William after my father's, father's, father so that you would remember that our names mattered. That you mattered more than all the pain and suffering that this life could throw at you; that you could be great when the world wanted you to be small and insignificant. 

"Thank you, Dad," William said as he slipped the pills into his coat pocket.

Then you had to go and become an accountant. Shamed the whole family you did with that one boy

"I love you too, Dad," he said as he put on his coat. "Don't tell the nurses that I didn't make you take your pills."

Wait, son, the old man said as he rose out of bed, wait. There's something I want you to do for me. Call it one last favor.

"You're not going anywhere, Dad."

The old man smiled, Oh but I am. I'm going to die tonight.

"Dad -"

Don't go poo-pooing me now, Will. This isn't a sad day; nor is it the end of my story. But I want you to promise me that you'll go down to the docks in the morning and see Captain Thomas. He has something for you - your inheritance. 

"Dad, you know all of this is just non-sense, right?"

Then humor me. Go to the docks in the morning and see Captain Thomas. Tell him your name is William Krutch and that you're the son of Arthur Krutch come for your inheritance.

"That's not our last name."

It was mine, once, long ago. He looked past William and smiled. Well it seems that our visit is over William. Time for you to go. 

William looked back into the empty hallway, "Dad, are feeling alright?"

Quite alright, he said as he climbed back into the bed. In fact I feel like I could peacefully sleep forever. 

"Okay Dad," William said as he watched his father lay down. 

Remember what you promised me Will. First thing in the morning. 

"First thing, Dad. I promise."

John Atkinson Grimshaw Paintings, Salthouse Docks, Liverpool 02
The next morning came far too quickly for William's liking, but then since his father had started having these spells he'd been spending his nights struggling to get him to take his medicine. Some nights he could; others, like last night, were nothing more than an exercise in futility. Rising out of bed and stretching he found himself wondering about his dad's request last night. It's always something, he whispered to himself. One minute dad's out fighting dragonflies and the next he's telling me to go see some sailor for my inheritance. It's always something.

Shower, shave, and dress. 
He wore blue today because his mother always told him that blue was a promise to the world that only good things came from you. His mother had been funny like that. She always had some little saying for luck or the warding off of evil spirits. It didn't save her from wagon that crushed her. They still didn't know how it rolled so far down the hill and got her.

Strange thoughts to occupy your mind, William mused. Stranger still that you would think of her today.

Stepping out into the morning air William Hamby made his way through the crowded streets and past the car jam that perennially clogged Fourth St. while angry commuters shouted at each other and blew their horns at the injustice of having to wait - they were far to important for such things, after all. His pace quickened as he crossed the tea houses and coffee shops on Ninth. He found himself sprinting down Baker's St. and practically running as fast as he could down Henley Bridge and to the docks.

What the hell's gotten into me, he wondered as he nearly collapsed from exhaustion. Why did I run? 

Looking back up the hill and towards Henley Bridge he couldn't place his finger on it. People, just normal everyday people, still milled about and none of them seemed to even notice him. Even the dockworkers were too busy with their own affairs to pay him any mind. Why did I run? 

He took some time to rearrange himself and began to quietly recite the song his mother used to sing when he was scared.

Children dance when the ogres come to play,
Giants race against the waning of the day.
Fear is for those who've never swam the Lorang
Or chased the dragons from their holds.

Funny little song, he thought as his nerves settled. I wish I could ask her the rest of it.

He made his way through the docks asking those he met along the way where he could find Captain Thomas. He was directed along the docks to an old, rickety ship that seemed content to deny the laws of gravity and buoyancy as it bobbed along. Boards stuck out everywhere and it was so covered in barnacles and seaweed that it looked as though the sea were trying to claim it here and now.

Captain Thomas? William called out. Captain Thomas, I'm William Krutch, son of Arthur Krutch. He said you had something for me? No answer came. Captain Thomas? Are you there?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Correction

Since there is now a DMG Basic as well as a regular Basic I'm going to hold off on doing any more of that series until the full thing releases. Really don't want to have eighty five documents that drive me up the wall . . .

On a related note: Yay! The update published today!

For Larry Franklin @boston892

Over on twitter Larry Franklin was looking for some help and I thought I'd oblige him.




Okay the the Arrow Demon (MM 3, pg. 34) has a level adjustment of 8 which means that you won't be able to level him until you reach 36,000 experience points, or 9th level. With such a high level adjustment most people don't play them unless they couple their advancement with the variant rules from the Savage Species book which allows you to progress along with the rest of the party and not to dominate everyone from the get go. To simplify things, though, we'll just assume that your DM has you making an 8th level character so that you don't have to worry with the long slog as your friends level over and over again and you remain the exact same the whole time.

To determine your ability scores for your monstrous PC you need to take each ability score and subtract 10 from even scores and 11 from odd scores (DMG pg. 172)

Your bonuses to your ability score rolls:
Strength: + 10
Dexterity: + 8
Constitution: + 17
Wisdom: +4
Intelligence: + 6
Charisma: + 2

Okay, your hit points are determined by your Hit Dice (DMG pg. 172) with the first one being maximized to represent your first level. An Arrow Demon is classified as an Outsider so you have d8 Hit Die (MM pg. 290)

Your Hit Points:
8 + Con Modifier + (9d8 + 9 x Con Modifier) 

You get +10 / +5 attack bonus. Your Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves all have a + 7 bonus. You have 8 + Int Modifier for each of your 10 HD, and you have 5 feats to choose from (MM pg. 290). As for the alignment just ask your DM if you can ignore that requirement. If she's letting you play the Arrow Demon then she probably doesn't care about the alignment restriction. 

Oh! One more thing before I wrap up: ask your DM about how much starting treasure you should begin the game with because there may be restrictions on how much she wants you to have access to at the start of the game.

Ptolus, Anyone?

Okay I've often wondered about +Monte Cook's Ptolus book but at $60.00 it's really hard to even consider pulling the trigger. Can anyone tell me anything about this thing? Is it worth buy at the $60 pdf price point? Or even the $110 combo price point?

Is really that good?

Let Those Ladies Alone!

I've talked before about how stupid I find it that some people want to drive women from this hobby (see On Those Sad, Fake, Nerd Girls for more) but this fantastic video by Society: Why It's Wrong so expertly dissects all the arguments against the inclusion of women that I felt compelled to share it.

Thanks to +Steven Schend for originally sharing a link to this most excellent of videos.


The Book Shelf: Three Against the Witch World by Andre Norton


Before I ever picked up a novel by Andre Norton I kept hearing about how she was comparable to Ursula K Le Guin. I am a huge fan of Le Guin's work and the comparisons made me excited to try Norton.

The people who made those comparisons are liars.

This book was barely worth reading and were Norton's ideas not so fascinating I would have put the book down and never returned to it. I don't know if the problem is that she was trying out a new style or if it was just that she falls into the category of writers who have fantastic ideas but not nearly enough tallent to follow through with them. In either case I labored through this book.

One Union beard out of five.

Awe Man . . .

Robin Williams died last night.

There are no more words.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rejection of Your Evidence is Just Par for the Course

One of the things that I've noticed this morning is that there comes a point in the conversation when you only have die-hards involved. The Consultant Controversy has clearly entered into this phase as we're now seeing the limited conversation that once existed has been completely abandoned for a rejection of evidence on each side.

What I wouldn't do for a good bottle of wine and limitless time on my hands to explore this entire thing from end to end! I long for a good breakdown once it reaches its inevitable end and we move on to talking about why maps of imaginary lands aren't realistic enough!

Today has been VERY good.

Got a great complement from Jeff Grubb and Cyclopeatron updated, twice. How was your day?

The Fault in Our Heroes Lies with Us


Back when I used to blog about politics there was a staunch group that called themselves the 'Dittos.' The term was originally used as a pejorative to describe their thoughtless parroting of Rush Limbaugh's political statements; yet over time these people proudly took on that term. I have been in discussions with these people where they defiantly stated that, "If you would only understand that Rush has it all figured out, and we just have to get behind him, everything would be alright."

For years it mystified me that anyone would cede their own intellect for that of another. Then I realized that for many of these people they just felt like they didn't have the time to investigate the issues and to really form an informed opinion about what was going on. So they listened to someone who seemed like they knew what was really happening and allowed themselves to parrot them instead of doing the thinking themselves. It was easier and it allowed them to see the world in shades of black and white rather than be confronted with a nuanced world view. 

It happens on the right, left, and middle in politics; and for a time I had deluded myself into believing that it didn't happen in our hobby. I wanted to believe that in a hobby that held so many innovative and inspiring people within it that we wouldn't fall into that trap. But it's there just as clear as the nose on my face. 

Look for the divides within the community and you'll notice us lining up parroting one and another with countless quotes and links to back us up - even though most of them don't actually say what we hoped they would. Think of the debates and controversies you've seen crop up in the hobby. Gygax and Arneson? How many blogs have you seen bring out quotes from these two or describe themselves as adherents to some imaginary tenants that they supposedly espoused?

Don't think it happens?

Hell, you're reading someone who used to describe his play style as Arnsonian and who has dogmatically quoted Gygax like he was a divine prophet that wrote the words of Jove in stone. Why do we do that? Why do we choose to find greater wisdom in the words of others than in ourselves?

Over time I've come to the conclusion that we quote other sources for our hobby because it gives us a form of legitimacy that our own words lack and frees us from the responsibility of owning the words we've written and said. Sometimes that last part is what people are really looking for when they quote another person. 

I don't have a point here. I just needed to say these things out loud. 

Oh, Friday Nights!

We were out back throwing baseballs at a tin roof pane when Racecar started laughing at me, "Charlie, you couldn't throw that ball in a straight line if I put a hundred dollars on it."

Is that a bet?

"No," he said as he emphaticlly shook his head. "I'm not fool enough to test you when it comes to having money on the line. Besides, we both know it wouldn't be a fair contest."

I stood up and sent a spiraling ball into the bull's eye. You're probably right on that one. So what are we doing tonight? Your Grandma asked if I could stay late.

"We're going to the track!"

We're running?

"No you dink," he said with an eye roll, "we're going to the dirt track to watch our cars!"

You have cars?

"Come on," he said as he stomped over to the big barn. The barn was what a proper one is supposed to look like. Big, sliding door at the front; red paint with white trim. Nothing at all like the dilapidated thing that stood just at the edge of our yard. Since the first time I had seen it I had been convinced that there wouldn't be a gigantic wasp nest in its loft or deadly snakes slithering through it. 

I'll be damned if I wasn't right. 

As Racecar opened the alley door I gave a whistle. Inside were two beautiful open wheeled race cars (which I could only recognize because he was always drawing them). Each was painted to match Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s car - and they had sponsor tags too. Bumper stickers of shops that I had visited and those I never knew existed were slapped haphazardly about the bodies of each of these cars. Racecar climbed in one and I raced to do the same in the other car. 

This is the coolest thing

"I know, right? And can you believe that we're going to get to watch them tonight!"

That evening we went down to the track and watch six hours of cars turning left on a dirt track that turned my white shirt into a reddish brown mess.  The noise was deafening and the smell tremendous. I loved it. Race after race found me and Racecar alternating between screaming at the top of our lungs and stuffing dollar burgers down our throats. I got to see a demolition derby, open wheels, and then I got to see the sprint cars. Those were fun to watch as they careened about the track, digging these massive ruts behind them.  Then I got to watch grown men fight each other with wrenches and a policeman fire his gun into the air. 

What more could a ten year old boy ask for?

I got to go to several of those races over the next few years but Racecar and I were growing apart so we spent less and less time together. In the end I think that it was my fault as I decided that it was hard to be such good friends with someone who thought there was something admirable in not reading - and something unnatural about reading as much as I was. So I started chasing beautiful girls and playing kissey face with them when they let me catch up while he drifted off into his world of race cars and motor oil. Our priorities shifted further once I realized you could do more with a girl than spend your money on her and kiss. 

Silently Hating You as You Breath Through Your Mouth

Thursday

I wake up to find that our internet is off and my son has learned how to perform a perfect stiff arm. I call the provider while he runs about the living room hitting the dog with a toy golf club. He keeps screaming that the dog is bad and I smile as he does and say, You're right buddy. That's a bad dog.

Glad I wrote a post in the queue early.

I go vote and 14 of my picks win. I celebrate by drinking a bottle of wine and whispering dark secrets to the stars overhead while I read through the comments on Lord, Forgive Me. I'm Talking About Politics. Go to bed very happy and remember why I loved blogging about politics back in 2000. Sometimes I miss it and tonight is one of those nights where I trace back old arguments with friends I've long lost touch with. It's sligthly bitter-sweet but then I've been drinking.

Tomorrow will be better, I whisper to the night as the storms break overhead. Tomorrow will be better

Friday 

The earth has been ravaged by a beautiful storm. The two lovers have carassed each other and torn clothing is scattered everywhere. This is a much better way to talk about cleaning up broken limbs than the actual process.
 
I still miss having 25 trees in the front yard and watching their limbs shake with rage at a stormy sky. 

My internet is back but I'm off on the road and trying to figure out what my lovely wife and I are going to do to celebrate her birthday. I propose hunting dinosaurs in the Amazon. She counters with Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles. 

It's her birthday so we go see the movie. I was pleasantly surprised that the movie was the best one since the original. Less things for the audience to overlook and better dialogue. Worth seeing if you're so inclined.

Saturday

On the road again and chasing the specters of my youth as we cross the state for my niece's 5th birthday. My son sings gentle songs in his car seat and tells me stories in a language that I fail to recognize but can't help loving all the same. 

I pop on G+ for a little bit and begin to wonder if the people fighting over Zak and the RPG Pundit really believe everything they've written or if this has crested into an Orwellian orgy of pseudo-cultural awareness where the issue isn't nearly as important as being seen talking about the issue.

Belief is a strange thing and I find false beliefs disquieting. 

Scrolling through my feed I find myself trying to keep up with more than forty conversations at once. My wife giggles at me as I am constantly scrolling through my phone to keep up with it all. I finally put the phone down and announce, I am clearly not meant for an internet age.

Sunday

Back home but I've woken up with a heart filled with rage. I'm angry at the world and angry at people I've never met for being so damned foolish. I cancelled the game of Dungeons and Dragons I had been planning on running today because I was not fit for company. 

I've started working on the first WTF article. A few things I've learned since I asked for suggestions (see Topic Suggestions for the WTF Series for more): none of the suggested topics can be done in a single evening if I want to do them justice; and I find myself appreciating Jeff Grubb more and more as the years go by. Dude's just good for this hobby.

More later.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lord, Forgive Me. I'm Talking About Politics.

I started voting with my parents when I was four years old. My mother would take me into the booth and she would have me pull these little switches for each candidate that she was voting for and then at the end she would let me pull this massive lever that would punch the voter card. Every election my brother and I would go in with one of our parents and vote. When I got old enough to drive I started campaigning for people I liked. I met state representatives and senators; their national versions too. I even sat on the Lt. Governor's desk and told him a dirty joke. 

I've voted in every primary and election since I was of age. It's important that I keep active because as turnouts continue to decline my vote's importance continues to increase. So when I tell you that I'm going to vote in a primary against a man I want you to understand that it's because I've got an extremist in the running and I won't ignore his foolish attacks against a reasonable man.

Politics doesn't mean zealot-like partisanship. It means compromise; where each of us work together to get things done. Politics is a great thing. It gave us roads, schools, and has helped us take care of those who couldn't take care of themselves. But it only works when we have people who believe in the system and are willing to work with each other.

We need reasonable people who will work together. We need people who remember that they're adults and that an argument about an issue isn't a personal attack. We need people who understand that there are actual repercussions for the reality that they want to see enacted through regulations and laws. 

I'm voting today because I am against a man who believes that politics is personal. He believes that we shouldn't pay for anything. That we shouldn't honor our debts and that we shouldn't work across the aisle. I'm voting against a fool in favor of a reasonable man.

Only Words Can Break Your Heart

Because.

"I don't think I love you anymore," was the worst thing I ever heard someone say to me. We weren't dating; we'd never made love, but we had been close since before I could remember there being a difference between men and women. I can remember standing there while she walked back up the steps and closed the door.

I walked back to the truck and spun her about as I raced back up the hill. Neil Young was crooning his way through A Man Needs a Maid as I hit the interstate and watched the speedometer peg at 85. I don't think I love you anymore? The fuck is wrong with her? Lights were flashing as they came racing out of a highway patrolman's hideaway and I pushed the truck faster as I took the curve on two wheels. I mean, I don't want to be friends should have been enough - but I don't love you anymore? Why go that far?

I slipped up the on-ramp and down a back road as the highway patrol overshot the exit and sent a explosion of burnt tire smoke into the air. A right, a left, and two straightaways later I was pulling onto a road named for a Medal of Honor winner still trying to understand what had just happened to us. Somehow I ended up at Third Person's house. He was outside playing basketball with his younger sister. They welcomed me and I told Third Person about what she'd said. "That's fucked up," his little sister said as she climbed up next to me on the hood and slid my arm around her waist.

"Don't take it personally, Charles," Third Person said as he made a shot. "She's just got some seriously fucked people in her ear right now."

Oh?

"Yeah," he said as he watched his sister slide my hand higher up her side and nuzzle in against my neck. "Apparently the Sisters have been telling her that you were bragging that the two of you fucked."

What? Why the fuck would they think I would ever say something like that. 

"People say stupid shit," his little sister said as she kissed the nape of my neck. "You shouldn't focus on them." Third Person grabbed her hand and pulled her off the hood of my truck, "And you shouldn't be using this as a way to fuck with him."

"I wasn't planning on fucking with him," she shouted at him. "I wanted to fuck him."

Man, I said as she ran inside, this day has been so weird.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Not a False Word from These Lips.

Painting by William Hatherill

 "You're bleeding again," she says as she starts cleaning my shoulder with a wet towel. "What happened to you?"

Vampire bats.

A little laugh, then, "There are no vampire bats here. What happened?"

I was walking along the path down by the lake and listening to the rednecks down by the docks have sex when I saw a woman in front of me. She was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Tall, slender, and with the sort of blonde hair that only comes from Hollywood and doesn't exist in nature. She's wearing this white, silky thing that makes her look like a ghost in the moon light. 

"Really," she said with a note of danger entering into her tone. 

Really, I say solemnly.

There she was in front of me walking along the path and this great wind comes from ahead of us and blows her robe off. Do you know what she was wearing?

"What?"

Nothing more than god gave her at birth. I was shocked.

"You were, huh?"

Absolutely. Now she turns about and sees me with her robe and starts smiling at me. She holds her hand out towards me and starts bekoning me towards her. So I walk over and start fumbling over my words. 'Ma'am,' I say, 'you seem to have dropped something.'

Can you believe that? Me! At a loss for words because some blonde filly stands naked in front of me!

"Get to the point," she says with just a tinge more anger than she means to let out. 

Right. So she looks at me and starts talking in this strange language that sounds like music and starts trying to take off my pants!

"What?" she practically shouts.

And I say, 'Hold it now! I'm a married man!' and she stops. 

"But how did you hurt your shoulder?"

I fell on a rock trying to take my pants off. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why So Quite Over There?

I realized this morning that from Thursday night to Sunday I wrote twelve posts and since I've only written two. Why? 

My son. 

So far we've attacked the dog, conquered the vacuum cleaner, killed the spider what did crawl on the wall, broken a train that the salesman swore couldn't be, sang dirty songs in a nonsensical language that threatens the sanity of passersby, and waged cruel war against the potty. He has a list of demands for the refrigerator that if not met by this time tomorrow will find it on the end of his wrath. 

I am waiting relief friends.